Ramen Revival – DRILL :: SRQ Magazine Article by Abby Weingarten

The antithesis of prepackaged Maruchan in the pantry, these local versions of the standard ramen recipe (of what is usually wheat noodles, miso, soy sauce and fish-based broth) are deliciously fresh. .

PHOTOGRAPH BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.

There’s the Rokkin Ramen Pop-Up Kitchen at 99 Bottles, Motoneko Café & Izakaya, Goichi’s Sushi Café, FushiPoke, and other venues now bubbling with elevated ramen variations.

the Pop-up kitchen Rokkin Ramen at 99 Bottles Taproom & Bottleshop is available from 5-9pm on Tuesdays with hand-rolled noodles and dim sum. It’s first come, first served until the food runs out, and the chef’s menu for each week is posted on the day of the event. The pop-up ramen concept was born from an idea between chefs Eddy Ismail, Anthony Petralia and Billy Simpson, shares 99-bottle owner Mark Tuchman. “Three local chefs wanted to be part of an exciting and evolving culinary scene in greater Sarasota, striving to provide delicious indulgence for their guests,” he says.

Now Rokkin’ Ramen serves classic handmade ramen noodles with flavorful broth, ranging from tonkotsu to miso. Tonkotsu broth is prepared using an age-old recipe that involves boiling pork bones for hours until a milky, silky broth is obtained. The umami-rich miso broth is strictly vegan and gluten-free, flavored only with Japanese-style fermented soybean paste and free of animal by-products. “From delicious meats to Japanese boiled eggs to vegetables, only the highest quality ingredients are allowed to accompany our ramen bowls,” says Tuchman.

For dim sum (small plates), pot stickers are hand-rolled with short ribs braised in gochujang sauce; and edamame is tossed in a spicy and crunchy Asian medley. Coming soon, the dim sum menu will soon feature Rangoon Crab which is fried to order on a mango sweet chili sauce; Agedashi (fried tofu with soy glaze and bonito flakes); a Japanese seaweed salad with agar and soy vinaigrette; and tsukune (Japanese chicken dumplings with sesame seeds and sweet soy glaze).

AT Cafe Motoneko and Izakaya, Executive Chef Maria Palafox presents authentic Japanese ramen and other inspired light bites. “‘Fat Boy’ signature ramen starts with Nissin noodles (the #1 noodle brand in Japan) and either tonkotsu (pork-based) or shoyu (soy-based) broths,” says Tom Frascone, Founder and operational partner of Motoneko. “A tender slice of marinated pork belly is caramelized using the traditional hand torch method.”

The pork belly is then added to the ramen with an assortment of beans and vegetables (edamame, corn, bean sprouts, and bamboo shoots), marinated “ramen egg” and Japanese “seven spice” seasoning, and garnished with a square of dried nori (seaweed). The meal is complemented by an extensive menu of Japanese beers and sake, as well as a rotating selection of wines.

“Chef Palafox researched traditional Japanese recipes to create the broth options, which are prepared slowly, using fresh, authentic ingredients,” says Frascone. Motoneko also uses locally roasted beans from Amity Brothers Coffee Co. to create a variety of coffee and espresso beverages. Boba and loose teas are made to order, and other Japanese soft drinks (such as Ramune sodas) are always on hand.

Goichi’s Sushi Cafe, which is primarily a take-out restaurant serving sushi and ramen, offers 100% fresh noodles. “Our ramen noodles are freshly made on site using our noodle maker,” says owner Goichi Matsumoto. “And the ramen noodle recipe is very basic, consisting of bread flour, water and kansui [a solution of potassium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate that offers alkalinity to the noodles, giving them their springy texture and yellowish color].” Goichi’s most popular noodle item is Pork Ramen 9, which contains pork chashu, egg, spinach, and bamboo shoots in miso broth (and Shio Chicken Ramen with chicken broth is also a success).

AT FushiPoke, diners can choose their own ramen (shoyu, miso, spicy and tonkotsu). Varieties come with shiitake mushrooms, soy eggs, green onions, bean sprouts, kamaboko, garlic oil, chili oil, and nori (and pulled pork and corn , depending on the option). Add protein to the mix, like pork belly, grilled chicken, tofu, or shrimp tempura, and finish with Japanese soda or cold sake. Other ramen spots include Utamaro Sushi Bar and JPAN Sushi & Grill, both of which serve a $15 bowl with tonkotsu broth, egg, and charsui pork. And that only scratches the surface of the round city of ramen. Keep an eye out for tasty new variations of the noodle favorite.

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